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US subpoenas Twitter, seeking information on WikiLeaks’ 635,561 followers

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Sunday, January 9, 2011 13:16 EDT
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A Dutch investigative journalist blasted the US Department of Justice for requesting information on everyone following WikiLeaks’ Twitter account and everyone they follow.

Which would include Raw Story.

The US Department of Justice subpoenaed the social networking site Twitter in December in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation of the secrets outlet.

“The fine people of WikiLeaks alerted me on Twitter that the subpoena you sent to Twitter, Inc. demanding all kinds of records, in fact, includes me too,” Okke Ornstein wrote on his blog.

The subpoena requests all records and other information relating to Twitter accounts associated with WikiLeaks and a few of its current and former supporters, “including non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s).”

“I hereby confess that I am one of the 635,561 followers of WikiLeaks on Twitter,” Ornstein wrote. “Maybe I should thank the US Department of Justice for including me in this ‘criminal investigation.’ It’s not every day that one gets to be part of history, even if it is a flawed attempt at damage control and political pandering.”

Meanwhile, Icelandic Foreign Minister Oessur Skarphedinsson said US demands for parliamentary representative Birgitta Jonsdottir’s Twitter information were unacceptable.

According to a court order issued by the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Justice Department is seeking access to the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Private First Class Bradley Manning, Icelandic MP Jonsdottir, Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp, and programmer Jacob Appelbaum.

“According to the documents that I have seen, an Icelandic parliamentarian is being investigated in a criminal case in the United States for no reason at all,” Skarphedinsson told Icelandic public radio RUV.

“It is intolerable that an elected representative is being treated like that,” he added.

Jonsdottir helped to produce a video for WikiLeaks showing a US helicopter shooting civilians in Baghdad in 2007. She left the organization in 2009 along with other members after arguing that Assange should step down as the spokesman of WikiLeaks until his legal troubles were resolved.

“This is even more serious when put in perspective and concerns freedom of speech and people’s freedom in general,” Skarphedinsson said.

The information sought by the subpoena includes the user names, mailing addresses, email addresses, connection records, length of service, types of services utilized and means of payment of each account associated with the five WikiLeaks supporters.

The court order states that there is “reasonable ground to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

A copy of the document was posted by Salon late Friday night after a judge granted Twitter’s request to disclose the subpoena, which had previously been sealed.

Icelandic Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson described the subpoena of Jonsdottir’s Twitter information as “very odd and grave.”

“Of course it is a very serious matter, if a demand has been put forward that she submit personal information to US authorities,” he said. “She is an Icelandic member of Althingi and furthermore a member of the Foreign Relations committee of Althingi.”

WikiLeaks, which began slowly releasing 251,287 US diplomatic cables in November, added it had reason to believe Facebook and Google had also received court orders requesting details on users.

 
 
 
 
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